Japanese women are known for their gorgeous skin and hair. We all think of Geisha with their painted faces and beautiful kimono but the average Japanese woman has her own rituals and secrets for beautiful skin passed down from her mother and grandmother.
K-beauty has been a thing for a while now but the latest is J-beauty. Japanese beauty regimes are simpler with fewer products targeted very specifically at preventing damage rather than treating it. J-beauty takes inspiration from natural products and traditions to prevent sun damage, uneven skin tone and the signs of ageing.
They start from the inside out. The Japanese diet is based on balance. Meals are smaller than in the west and full of healthy nutrients from vegetables, rice, fish and fruit. There is a lot of focus on minimalism and discipline. Not too much fat and as little sugar as possible. They are also careful about preservatives and chemicals in food as well as cosmetics.
The same goes for their beauty regime. Japanese women generally don’t have a clutter of products in their bathroom and the ones they do have are carefully chosen. They also use natural items from the supermarket as part of their beauty ritual. Many women also check for chemicals in their beauty products. It is considered better if the majority of ingredients are naturally derived.
Here are a few of the age-old food items that Japanese women use to keep their skin and hair in beautiful condition.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
Japanese women use this small reddish-brown bean as a brightening and softening scrub for the face and body. It is full of antioxidants that fight the signs of damage and ageing as well as saponins that act as a foamy cleanser to remove dirt and impurities.
The beans are ground into a fine powder and used as a facial or body scrub by simply adding some warm water to form a paste.
Adzuki beans remove impurities and dead skin cells. It also tightens the pores and smoothes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
How do you use them? You can buy dried Adzuki beans online or in some supermarkets and grind them in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. It needs to be very finely ground. Too rough and it will scratch the skin instead of exfoliating. Simply place a tablespoon of powder in a bowl and add warm water to form a paste. You can also add a drop of your favourite essential oil. Apply it to your skin in gentle circular motions. Allow it to sit for a minute then rinse with warm water. For an extra anti-ageing boost, use rose water to form the paste.
Rice bran or Komenuka is full of antioxidants and has many anti-aging properties. It is generally used as a scrub or a facial mask. It fights the signs of ageing by toning, brightening and softening the skin.
Rice bran is the outer layer of the rice. The white bit that we generally eat is the kernel inside but the outer “husk” is full of healthy oils and nutrients. It contains antioxidants, vitamin E, B vitamins, and essential fatty acids. It’s a great source of fibre but it also does wonders for the skin!
Rice Bran Mask
1 tablespoon rice bran – finely ground
2 – 3 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon honey
Combine the rice bran and hot water and leave to soften and cool slightly. Add the honey to make a thick, sticky paste. Apply to warm, cleansed skin and scrub gently in circular motions. Leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Green Tea & Matcha Powder
Japanese women drink many cups of green tea in a day. First thing in the morning and with almost every meal. They also incorporate green tea into their beauty practices in various ways.
Green tea is brimming with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can add the tea leaves to your bath, mix the extract into masks and rinse your hair with the tea to add shine. Green tea treats acne, smoothes fine lines and wrinkles, reduces puffy under eyes and helps with conditions like dandruff and dermatitis.
You can read more about green tea in my other post here.
Matcha powder is made of finely ground green tea leaves. It is amazingly good for the body and skin because you get 100% of the benefits of leaves instead of just the extract in the tea. It is full of antioxidants called polyphenol catechins. They fight inflammation, environmental damage and cellular damage. They help to reduce the damage caused by UV rays and even out skin tone. Used on the skin, the tannins in matcha powder will tighten and smooth texture and enlarged pores.
Amazing Anti-Ageing Mask
1-2 tablespoons matcha powder
1 teaspoon coconut oil for deep moisture
3 drops rose essential oil or 1 teaspoon rose water for soft radiant skin
1 teaspoon natural yoghurt to moisturise OR
1 teaspoon honey if you don’t use dairy products.
Combine the ingredients in a bowl to form a paste, adding more powder or fluid if it’s too dry or too runny. Apply it to your skin and leave on for 20 minutes. It will dry slightly so wet your hands with warm water and press them to your skin to soften the mask. Gently rub in circular motions applying more water and then rinse off completely.
Japanese Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder [ Premium Grade ] 50 gr | Tea Produced in Japan, Uji, Kyoto | Use for Drinking, Cooking, Baking, Smoothie Making and with Milk | Vegan & Vegetarian-Friendly – £6.65
Also known as Tsubaki oil you may have seen camellia oil in hair care products but it is also widely used as a skincare product by Japanese women. It is a skin, hair and overall health treatment. There are edible tinctures and capsules that are used to boost the immune system, balance blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
It is high in omega-9 fatty acids (oleic acid) omega-6 (linoleic acid), proteins and glycerides.
Camellia oil is a velvety oil that softens and moisturises the skin. It is light, easily absorbed and doesn’t leave any greasy residue. Because of its deep moisturising properties, it is known to keep skin youthful and smooth well into old age. It has a comedogenic score of 1 which means that it is very unlikely to block pores and cause breakouts. It has anti-inflammatory properties that actually help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne. These anti-inflammatory properties also help with eczema and other skin rashes.
Strange as it may sound, camellia oil will also help to protect against UV damage. Used as a moisturiser, it helps to deflect harmful UV rays. It has an SPF of around 5 so you will still need a heavier SPF sunscreen but it is another layer of protection.
As an added bonus, because of it’s light texture it is a lovely eye makeup remover and as it is known to nourish hair and nails it will do your eyebrows and eyelashes some good in the process.
Also known as Wakame of Phytessence Wakame, seaweed is not only for sushi. It moisturises, cleanses, detoxifies and fights the signs of ageing.
Seaweed contains iron, calcium, iodine, magnesium, vitamins A, C, E, K and B-complex. It is absolutely loaded with antioxidants and due to the high vitamin B content, it is a potent anti-inflammatory. It smoothes the skin and improves elasticity while improving blood circulation due to its high iron content. Because it contains marine collagen it also helps to plump and tone the skin.
Seaweed contains compounds that help to protect cell wall integrity against damaging environmental factors like UV light. Wakame inhibits the enzyme hyaluronidase which attacks the skin’s supply of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid maintains the elasticity and smoothness of the skin.
Calming Seaweed Mask
Great if you have been in the sun all day!
Grind seaweed for 2 tablespoons of seaweed powder
3 drops chamomile essential oil
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel or 1 tablespoon natural yoghurt.
You can also add a little coconut oil for extra moisture.
Apply the mask to damp, cleansed skin and leave on for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse away with warm water and pat dry.
Rice water is another staple. It is easy to make and can be found in masks, moisturisers and toners. To make your own rice water toner, simply soak a handful of rice in cold water for at least an hour. Use it as a toner by applying it to the skin on a cotton pad. It tightens and tones the skin and over time evens out skin tone.
Some of the active ingredients in rice water are a ferulic acid which is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage and allantoin which is an anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce redness and swelling due to acne. It can also serve as a hair rinse to add shine or a soothing anti-inflammatory that will reduce the pain and redness of sunburn.
Marion Moisturizing Essence Face Tonic Japanese Ritual with Cherry Blossom 120ml – £6.39